Governor’s ideas met with hope, skepticism

After Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address and executive budget presentation, Capital Regi

After Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address and executive budget presentation, Capital Region lawmakers weighed in with their opinions on his proposals for education, property tax relief and economic development.

Cuomo’s $141.6 billion state budget proposal includes initiatives to provide more funding for education, cut small business and property taxes and spur more economic activity upstate. Overall, local legislators believe the 2015-16 agenda and budget are a step in the right direction, but some issues remain.

Economic competition

Cuomo announced a $1.5 billion economic revitalization competition for seven upstate regions, including the Capital Region, to vie for $500 million in funding — but only three would be declared winners.

“I have been a strong supporter of the governor’s position on regional economic development councils and the amount of money the state has been investing in economic development in upstate New York. So for me, that’s the part of the budget that I’m most excited about. I hope we’re going to be able to continue in those areas.” — Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie

“Economic competition, with all of that money, is just one large member item for the governor. When you put billions of dollars into a competition, you want to make sure it’s not just the governor picking the winners and losers. When the money is controlled by the governor and the Legislature doesn’t have a hand in it, I’m really concerned about that.” — Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville

“When we have $1.5 billion to work with for economic development, I think that we shouldn’t have any losers in the process. The governor has seven regions competing, and only three regions would receive $500 million in economic development funding. I think we need to take the approach that if there is a good project that creates jobs anywhere in upstate New York, it ought to receive upstate assistance, not picking winners and losers based on regions.” — state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford


Cuomo proposed a $1.1 billion increase in education aid, or 4.8 percent, tied to other education reforms, including a teacher evaluation system that would base 50 percent of evaluations on standardized test scores.

“The teachers in my district are not happy with this. They do believe that there should be an evaluation, but that it should be fair for everyone. I think we need to rely on local input and listen to our local schools. Come up with something that is fair for everybody and what everyone could agree to. I think we need to make the investment, but I don’t think it should be held hostage or tied into any other program or initiative.” — Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam

“I feel we have highly effective teachers, for the most part, and schools are doing a very good job of educating their students. As we look ahead, I think we need to not be placing any additional restrictions and requirements on schools and teachers that are doing well. We need to look at the governor’s numbers because I want to get rid of the Gap Elimination Adjustment this year, which would take up $1.1 billion to do that. It has done more harm in our local schools than anything else.” — Seward

Property taxes

Cuomo is looking to provide $1.7 billion in property tax relief for homeowners and renters and cut small business taxes from 6.5 percent to 2.5 percent.

“Property tax reform is a must. We need to reduce our property tax burden for all property owners, and also the cost of living. We all love New York; we just can’t afford New York. I’d like to see more. I would like to see more property tax reform that is for over-taxed properties. It’s something that completely cripples our upstate economy.” — state Sen. George Amedore, R-Rotterdam

“A circuit breaker doesn’t reduce the highest property taxes in the nation; it maintains it and allows it to grow. It could work if he also reduces the entire property tax burden for local municipalities; then it’s a fair help with the property taxes. He also wants to reduce the small business tax; that’s a great idea, but then he negates everything by saying he wants the highest minimum wage in America.” — Tedisco


Cuomo plans to launch a $500 million statewide broadband program that would leverage another $500 million in private funding to provide broadband access for all New Yorkers by the end of 2018.

“We need the state to jump in and make it affordable, so $500 million in state funding may not be enough. It might have to be closer to $1 billion to make sure rural areas in particular can compete. Our schools, businesses and others need this basic infrastructure available to them. But he didn’t talk about upstate roads and bridges. We have crumbling infrastructure. That’s OK, that’s his list, but that’s not our list.” — Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie

“If we want to increase broadband across all of New York, do the same thing in the investments in economic development opportunities as well, for all of upstate New York.” — Amedore

“The state is saying 100 megabytes is what is needed for economic growth. I don’t have that anywhere in my district. In the western part of Montgomery County, there are schools that don’t have access to broadband. I like this initiative; I think it is a good investment. I think this is a good start, but I would like to see it come across my district and make a difference for the farming industry and education system.” — Santabarbara

Categories: Schenectady County

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